As the costs of gas and parking continue to rise, employers can soften the impact of commuting on employees by encouraging commute options like telecommuting. Telecommuting – also referred to as teleworking – simply means working from home or a satellite office one or more days a week using telecommuting tools such as phone, email, IM and Internet conferencing.
Telecommuting is one of the fastest growing work trends in America today, because it benefits both employers and employees while saving everyone money and time. More people working from home also has significant environmental benefits – reducing traffic congestion and CO2 emissions – and positive social repercussions like stress reduction and more time for family and personal life.
“Besides the obvious savings on time and gas money for employees, telecommuting is a great way for employers to retain and recruit employees,” said Kelly Stoner, campaign organizer of Drive Less Save More, a statewide social marketing campaign on practical ways to cut down on driving.
“Many women are choosing to have children in mid-career. Allowing women with babies and small children to telework can help companies retain valued, skilled employees while saving on overhead costs and retraining,” said Stoner. Many companies also use teleworking as a perk to draw in the best candidates from a wider geographical area or to attract more qualified workers to fill hard-to-fit jobs.
“As a business who utilizes telecommuting, you can receive tax deductions and credits,” said Jeff Monson, executive director of Commute Options for Central Oregon and a steering committee member for the Drive Less Save More campaign. Commute Options works closely with Central Oregon businesses to help them implement many different types of trip reduction programs.
There are many ways for both employees and employers to benefit. Employees who telecommute spend less time and money – up to $1,200 per year on fuel costs alone – on commuting. They often benefit from improved productivity because they work in a quieter environment with fewer interruptions, allowing them to focus more on work tasks. Many teleworkers find they have less stress and better quality of life related to time gained in their day due to a lack of commuting.
Employers who allow telecommuting benefit by reduced overhead costs; employers can save on utilities and make more efficient use of limited office and parking space. In addition, Oregon employers who purchase equipment for teleworkers may be eligible for Business Energy Tax Credits (BETC) through the Oregon Department of Energy. Many employers also find they get improved productivity with telecommuting employees, who are often more efficient, deliver higher quality work, and have reduced absenteeism.
For more information on the benefits of telecommuting, visit www.drivelesssavemore.com/employers/ and to find out more about the Oregon Department of Energy’s Business Energy Tax Credits, visit www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/TRANS/transhm.shtml.
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone.For more information about Commute Options, contact Jeff Monson, Executive Director of Commute Options at 541-330-2647 or visit www.commuteoptions.org.
Annissa Anderson is a freelance writer and PR consultant in Bend.